Where did we lead off, ah yes, an over night stay at the convention center in an endeavor to secure a seat in The Last Jedi panel on the main stage. I got back to the center at 8:30 and was finally though security at 9:30. Was able to grab some food and then attempt to sleep seven and a half hours until they started passing out the wristbands for the panel. Highlight of the night was Rian Johnson coming in and spending four hours just talking to the fans and hanging out. I didn't get to meet him personally but it was a heartfelt gesture from the director of the new Star Wars movie to spend his night with the people that can't wait for his latest film. Sadly being on the main stage was not to be, but I was able to secure a great seat in one of the overflow rooms and settle in for The Last Jedi panel.
The panel was hosted by actor Josh Gad, who has recently been posting funny Instagram videos of himself and others "harassing" Daisy Ridley about the next film. He welcomed Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy to the stage first. Rian thanked all the fans for their support and Kathy said that he is well on his way to being one of the best filmmakers that she has ever worked with (and that is saying something). He had a wonderful time filming in Pinewood and Ireland. In fact they filmed all up and down the west coast of Ireland, seems like they are going to have a lot of the film devoted to Rey and Luke together.
Rian talked about the experience of working with legendary actor and writer Carrie Fisher. He mentioned that she was so great to work with and both he and Kathy say that she gives an incredible performance in the film. Carrie also helped Rian work on the script. He told us how they would spend hours just talking things over and it would lead to just to perfect bit of dialogue.
Daisy came out next. Josh asked her a bunch of questions about Rey's lineage, which she could not answer. Daisy did reveal that the movie does explore the character in a much deeper way. It also leads her to face the axiom that sometimes it's better to not meet your role models because they might not be what you expected. She also discussed the privilege it is to play a character that young girls can look up to.
They did bring out BB-8 and Rian promised we will love what he has to do in the movie. John Boyega said that although Finn was last seen in bad shape, the character will, in fact, be back and trying to find out where he belongs in the universe. The First Order is going to be taking full advantage of their destruction of the New Republic and setting them back on their heels. We also got to meet Kelly Marie Tran who will be playing a new character named Rose. She is a maintenance worker that is going to be pulled into the adventure a lot like Luke and Rey were.
Mark Hamill was the last member to join the panel. He felt like working on the movie was an out of body experience, to be back in Star Wars. He confessed to Johnson that he was terrified of messing this up (which Johnson admitted to as well), because the character had such a clear beginning, middle and end in the Original Trilogy. He praised Johnson, saying that he could not have done this movie without him. Kennedy interjected that she wants it to be clear that Luke is "significantly important" in this movie.
Then it was teaser poster and trailer time!
The next panel I was able to attend was the Making of Rogue One. John Knoll, Matthew Wood, Doug Chaing and Doug Swartz came together to give us a look at the challenges behind bringing this war movie to screen. They gave us a look at the digital sets they built and some of them may surprise you. Many of the sets were not built in full but a proxy set was constructed that would allow the actors to be on set and lit, but then enable the digital team to complete the rest of the work. The Blockade Runner, Radius' bridge are just a few of the sets they did this with.
They also built these massive LED screens that enabled them to have the actors actually looking at something and would have lighting that impacted the scene. There are many times, like on the Death Star, where what is on the view window, is what us as audience members saw. It was a technique they also used for the cockpits of the fighters, allowing the actors to really feel like they were in the thick of the fight.
Doug Chaing explained the new visual production that happened in 2D and 3D simultaneously and allowed them to give Gareth Edwards a much better feel for the sets, more quickly. They also gave us a rundown on just some of the many steps it took to bring Tarkin to life. Lastly, Matt Wood gave us a taste of all the layers that go into the sound mix and just how important each one is. One of the best parts of the panel were the outtakes they showed us. When K2S-O slaps Cassian, that was completely improvised and Diego Luna puts his had up to his face because he's actually laughing in the shot.
The last panel of the day was the Lucasfilm Publishing Writer's Roundtable with Timothy Zahn, Beth Revis, Delilah Dawson, Charles Soule, Jody Houser, Michael Kogge, and Ben Acker & Ben Blacker. The panel was a blast. First, a shout out to my friend Bria that introduced me to Mary Ann Zissimos the Publicity Manager Content and Media for Disney which enabled me to have front row seats to the panel with the rest of the media. The panel was made up of questions to the authors that had been collected from fans on twitter and ranged from what they do to prep for writing, to a question from yours truly about what they would write about if they could do so about anything in Star Wars. My personal favorites, Zahn wants to write a Kenobi book about what he does right after he drops Luke off on Tatooine and then proceeds to go across the galaxy to another planet and raise some hell, to put focus on anywhere but where Luke is. The other idea that caught my attention was the idea for a young Ackbar series.
There were some big announcements at the panel. IDW Comics is going to publishing a series aimed at younger readers called Star Wars Adventures. Disney Press is also going to be giving us some books in the new Force of Destiny series that will link with the new animated show. They are bringing back the "Journey to" series and of course this time it's to The Last Jedi. We will be getting a book called Phasma written by Delilah Dawson as well as 5 issue mini-series. A book about teenage Leia by Claudia Gray and the story of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu. There are many more books that are coming out and you can check them all out in the pictures from today! Enjoy and now it's time to get ready for the Season 4 Rebels panel.